STUDENTS are delving into the past to secure their heritage for the future in cross-curricular project at a North-East school.
Students at St John’s School and Sixth Form College, A Catholic Academy, Bishop Auckland, have been working on 16 mini projects as part of ‘At Home with Heritage’, an initiative funded by the Northern Heartlands Community Initiative Fund, managed by County Durham Community Foundation.
Academy arts co-ordinator Jaquie Holloway said: “The aim is to help our students develop their knowledge and understanding of local heritage, be aware of what is on their doorstep, learn to value it and hopefully find ways of protecting it for the future.
“We have had an overwhelming response from staff and students of all ages who have been involved in areas they would not normally have the chance to experience. I am thrilled with how the projects have grown and we hope to develop them further to leave a lasting legacy.”
Students’ work will form a major exhibition at school on February 13 at which Jane Ruffer, of the Auckland Project, will be guest of honour among a host of visitors including staff, students and families.
The mini projects include a fish sculpture made from plastic rubbish collected by students on a visit to Seaham beach as part of a science project looking at recycling and power generation.
Year 10 student Elizabeth Dent, 14, said: “We were amazed how much rubbish had been washed up on the beach; there were loads. It was nice to think that we cleared a little bit and were able to make an art installation with it.”
Languages students visited Hamsterley Forest and are creating leaflets to help French and Spanish exchange students, while others are producing a mini-newspaper for Stanhope Show promoting the importance of agricultural events in the dales.
English A Level students have been studying accents in Weardale and are working with Northumbria University to map geographical dialect changes.
Another group of students studied willow-craft to produce a life-sized eagle matching the school badge.
Art and photography students looked at the changing landscape with a guided walk through Slitt Wood, West Rigg Mines, farm and moorland, following this up with paintings of the landscape on which an array of local wildlife will be superimposed.
Photography students visited Cockfield Fell to view the signs of iron-age settlements, coals mines, the railway and viaduct. Their artwork will be printed on fabric and hung on washing lines and the side of a pigeon cree, reflecting the traditions of the area.
History students have produced a map of Bishop Auckland showing where the fallen soldiers of WWI once lived, while technology pupils have been producing traditional crafts from steel and classmates have been working on fabric proddy-mats based on local folklore.
Two other groups have been studying inspirational people, including Ellie Langley, a self-sufficient wool artist from Ireshopeburn, who helped them create a wool draughtsboard.
Teacher Becci Bell has been helping students compose heritage music, while head of music Kim Wearmouth has been helping them look at the history of brass bands, working with local composer Steve Robson, taking inspiration from the mines.
The Celebration of Achievement event on February 13 begins at 6.30pm and also features Cream Teas, a band from Teesdale which plays traditional music. Anyone requiring more details about the event and opening hours of the exhibition, should contact the school on (01388) 603246.